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Section of lungs infected with influenza virus with a major inflammation which results in a marked infiltration of neutrophil polynuclear cells, dark cells. © Inserm/Si-Tahar, Mustapha
Researchers from the CNRS, INSERM, the Institut Pasteur de Lille, INRAE (France) and from Brazilian (Belo Horizonte), Scottish (Glasgow) and Danish (Copenhagen) laboratories have shown for the first time in mice that perturbation of the gut microbiota caused by the influenza virus favours secondary bacterial superinfection. Published in Cell Reports on March 3, 2020, these results open up new prospects for the prevention and treatment of bacterial pneumonia, a major cause of death in elderly or vulnerable people infected with the influenza virus.
Influenza and its complications continue to be a significant public health concern as well as a major social and economic burden. Vaccination campaigns, together with the discovery of new antiviral therapies, provide preventive and therapeutic solutions. However, impairment of defence mechanisms against secondary bacterial infections, which considerably worsen the clinical picture of people with influenza, remains a major problem.
The researchers also showed that this sensitivity to bacterial superinfection can be corrected by treatment with acetate, one of the main short-chain fatty acids produced by the microbiota. Their work could have practical applications for the well-being of infected patients, who would be better protected against influenza-related complications. This work was made in collaboration with scientists from the Micalis Institute (INRAE/AgroParistech/Université Saclay), the Lille Inflammation Research International Center (INSERM/Université de Lille/CHU Lille), the Laboratory of Design and Application of Bioactive Molecules (CNRS/University of Strasbourg), the Molecular Virology and Immunology Unit (INRAE) and GenoScreen (Lille), the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology (Glasgow, Scotland) and the Department of Pharmacology (University of Copenhagen, Denmark). This discovery represents a major breakthrough in the understanding of the mechanisms behind bacterial superinfections in influenza patients. It could lead to the development of new nutritional and/or therapeutic strategies to better control bacterial infections.
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Gut dysbiosis during influenza contributes to pulmonary pneumococcal superinfection through altered short-chain fatty acid production. Valentin Sencio, Adeline Barthelemy, Luciana P Tavares, Marina Gomes Machado, Daphnée Soulard, Céline Cuinat, Celso Martins Queiroz- Junior, Marie Louise Noordine, Sophie Salomé-Desnoulez, Lucie Deryuter, Benoit Foligné, Céline Wahl, Benoit Frisch, Angelica Thomaz Vieira, Christophe Paget, Graeme Milligan, Trond Ulven, Isabelle Wolowczuk, Christelle Faveeuw, Ronan Le Goffic, Muriel Thomas, Stéphanie Ferreira, Mauro M Teixeira and François Trottein. Cell Reports, 3 March 2020. DOI : 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.02.004